Nyjer Morgan was caught stealing twice in yesterday’s game (although one came on a botched hit-and-run try) and manager Jim Riggleman revealed that he gave Morgan a little pep talk in the dugout following the first failed steal attempt:
I said, “You know what? It seems like they throw the ball right on the button.” He never gets a break. I just wanted him to stay positive and realize the catcher made a great throw. That’s baseball. He was aggressive [and] the catcher made a great throw. When Nyjer’s out there, they’re on their “A game” in terms of stopping him from running.
Just a friendly tip for Riggleman: It’s not that opposing catchers are “on their ‘A game'” when Morgan is running, it’s that Morgan is such a low-percentage base-stealer that he makes catchers look good. Morgan led the league in caught stealing last season and in 2009, getting gunned down 17 times each year. For his career he’s 92-for-134 on the bases, which is a “success” rate of 68.6 percent that qualifies as terrible (for comparison, Carl Crawford has a success rate of 81.9 percent).
Saying catchers step up their game when Morgan runs is like saying pitchers step up their game when Jack Wilson is at the plate or hitters step up their game when Oliver Perez is on the mound. Nyjer Morgan is very fast, but he’s an awful base-stealer and his awful stolen base percentages have far more to do with him than with catchers. The statement “he never gets a break” is only accurate if Riggleman was referring to Morgan’s inability to get a good jump from first base.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.